Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

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July 5, 2013
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Jay Johnson right choice for Nevada Wolf Pack

The Nevada Wolf Pack definitely drilled a line drive off the wall for a double when it named Jay Johnson as its head baseball coach. Johnson was one of the hottest young assistant coaches in the nation at San Diego, helping lead the Toreros to six NCAA Regional appearances in eight years. He also helped recruit Kris Bryant out of Las Vegas to San Diego and Bryant turned into the No. 2 draft pick in the nation last month. Right now the Johnson hiring is a double off the wall. It will turn into a home run when he proves he can recruit Southern California talent to Northern Nevada. Johnson will get the Pack back to the regionals within three years. Maybe sooner.

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Johnson and new Pack football coach Brian Polian seem to be cut from the same cloth. Both are extremely confident, determined and positive. They don’t care about the so-called challenges surrounding the Wolf Pack. Those challenges, as far as they are concerned, are somebody else’s false limitations on what the Wolf Pack can accomplish. They don’t exist as far as Polian and Johnson are concerned. The two young coaches are a breath of fresh air and are already changing the culture up on North Virginia Street.

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Brad Stevens just might have committed coaching suicide. The Butler men’s basketball coach is going to become the Boston Celtics new head coach, replacing Doc Rivers. The Celtics are a mess and it’s not going to get any better for a while. Stevens, who turned down UCLA and Illinois this past off-season, had one of the best jobs in the world at Butler. Why jump into the cutthroat world of the NBA? Just ask Rick Pitino and John Calipari. And why would the Celtics want Stevens? The Celtics are hiring a guy who made his reputation against Ball State, Evansville, Indiana State and Valparaiso and then his teams got hot in a couple NCAA Tournaments. This isn’t going to end well.

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The controversy on whether or not Yasiel Puig belongs on the National League All Star roster is absurd. Of course he belongs. He is one of the best players in all of Major League Baseball. He has ignited the Dodgers and turned around a floundering, fat and lazy organization. The All Star game is for the fans. The fans want to see the most exciting players in the game. Who would you rather see in an All Star game? Michael Cuddyer or Puig? Baseball needs to stop filling All Star rosters with players nobody wants to see (like Bryan LaHair last year). By the end of the year Puig will be in the MVP conversation (regular season and World Series). He’s a star.

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Does it really matter where Dwight Howard chooses to go? Whichever team he plays on will never win a NBA title. Howard is a coach killer. He’s the type of player who commands ridiculous money yet he cannot be your best player if you want to win a title. If all you want to do is sell tickets, jerseys, shoes and bobbleheads, then go sign Howard. If you want championships, well, go get LeBron James or wait until he retires.

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When Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were on the Boston Celtics this year, hardly anyone west of Fenway Park thought Pierce and Garnett would win another title. Now that they are on the Brooklyn Nets most everyone is talking title again. The Nets are all about grabbing the headlines and Twitter chatter coming out of New York. That’s why they hired Jason Kidd to coach them. It’s why they added a couple of big-name fading stars like Pierce and Garnett. In New York, it’s not about winning, it’s about the appearance of winning.

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NFL training camps are opening up in less than three weeks. Savor every moment of this coming season San Francisco 49ers fans. Your 49ers are heads and tails better than anyone else in the NFL. They are the most complete team in the NFL by far. Here’s the deal about Colin Kaepernick that only Wolf Pack fans know. Kaepernick gets better every year. He gets more motivated every year. He is the LeBron James of the NFL.

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The Texas Rangers just signed Manny Ramirez to a minor league contract. There are hundreds of young ballplayers sitting at home right now with a world of potential, work ethic and hunger to succeed who got overlooked by professional baseball. And the Rangers go out and sign a lazy, fat, washed up, performance enhancing drug user. Go figure.


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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jul 5, 2013 12:55AM Published Jul 5, 2013 12:55AM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.